Atlanta Braves in brief

March 29, 2014 

2013: 96-66, first place (lost to Dodgers in division series).

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (fourth season).

He's here: RHP Gavin Floyd, C Ryan Doumit, RHP Aaron Harang, 1B Mat Gamel, 2B Tyler Greene.

He's outta here: RHP Tim Hudson, C Brian McCann, LHP Paul Maholm, LHP Eric O'Flaherty, RHP Freddy Garcia, SS Paul Janish, 2B Elliot Johnson, RHP Cristhian Martinez, LHP Sean Gilmartin.

Projected lineup: RF Jason Heyward (.254, 14 HRs, 38 RBIs, 104 games), CF B.J. Upton (.184, 9, 26, 12 SBs, 151 Ks), 1B Freddie Freeman (.319, 23, 109, .501 slugging percentage), LF Justin Upton (.263, 27, 70, 94 runs, 161 Ks), C Evan Gattis (.243, 21, 65), 3B Chris Johnson (.321, 12, 68, 34 doubles), 2B Dan Uggla (.179, 22, 55, 171 Ks), SS Andrelton Simmons (.248, 17, 59).

Rotation: RH Julio Teheran (14-8, 3.20 ERA, 170 Ks), RH Ervin Santana (9-10, 3.24, 190 hits, 211 IP with Royals), LH Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21, team-leading 181 Ks), LH Alex Wood (3-3, 3.13, 31 games, 11 starts), RH Aaron Harang (5-12, 5.40, 26 starts with Mariners and Mets) or RH David Hale (1-0, 0.82, 14 Ks, 1 walk in 2 starts).

Key relievers: RH Craig Kimbrel (4-3, 1.21, 50/54 saves, 98 Ks, 67 IP), LH Luis Avilan (5-0, 1.52, 75 games), RH David Carpenter (4-1, 1.78, 74 Ks), RH Jordan Walden (4-3, 3.45, 1 save).

Hot spots: After Hudson and Maholm departed as free agents, the Braves lost two more starting pitchers -- projected opening day starter Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy -- to season-ending elbow injuries in spring training. Braves general manager Frank Wren quickly signed Santana, but the rotation remains thin, especially early in the season. Minor, who had a sore shoulder early in the spring, is expected to be ready in mid-April. Gavin Floyd, recovering from surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament and a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow, could join the rotation in May.

Atlanta cut Garcia late in spring training and signed Harang after he was released from a minor league contract by Cleveland.

Outlook: The Braves had the majors' best ERA in 2013, when they won the division even as Uggla and B.J. Upton hit below .200 and lost their starting jobs.

The team expected to again lean on its pitching before losing Medlen and Beachy. Wood has impressed in spring training and could help replenish the rotation. The club invested in its future when it gave multiyear contracts to top young stars Kimbrel, Freeman, Heyward and Simmons this spring.

Only Heyward's two-year deal is for fewer than four years. Gattis showed impressive power as a rookie and now replaces McCann as the starting catcher. The injuries to Medlen and Beachy probably make the Braves an underdog to Washington in the NL East. A full, healthy season from Heyward and even modest improvements from Uggla and B.J. Upton could make the lineup stronger despite the loss of McCann.

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